Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival 2019 and Plexus Polaire Present CHAMBRE NOIRE Review – A Journey to Darkness

Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival 2019 and Plexus Polaire CHAMBRE NOIRE

Yngvild Aspeli controls the stage and the audience.  She opens and closes the transparent screens of black filament that hang at various depths across the stage.  These changes put light onto scenes, and onto percussionist Ane Marthe Sørlien Holen, whose  music and narration unite the performance.  Video projections play across the screens, animating the bleak, black area.  Plexus Polaire (France/Norway) is one of three French productions playing at Chicago International Puppet Festival 2019 as part of the inaugural Festival Exchange.

Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival Stages A Horror Story

CHAMBRE NOIR is a traumatic story of a woman’s horror.  The life story of Valerie Solanas— here as several life-size puppets—  is told.  She was an American radical feminist and author.  She wrote the SCUM Manifesto, which she self-published in 1967.  In 1968, she attempted to murder Andy Warhol for allegedly stealing her work.  She describes herself as a whore, a dark hole used by men.

Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival 2019 and Plexus Polaire CHAMBRE NOIRE
Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival 2019 and Plexus Polaire CHAMBRE NOIRE
Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival 2019 and Plexus Polaire CHAMBRE NOIRE

Refuge in Death

Aspeli feels for Valerie Solanas – cradling the puppet is her arms.  Unlike most puppeteers, you see Aspeli’s face, often see her voice speaking Solanas’s lines.  A woman who seemed to find no comfort in her life, finds refuge dying in the arms of her puppeteer.

Aspeli as Actor and Puppeteer

Aspeli does not share the stage with other puppeteers in this production.  Moving from scene to scene, from actor to puppeteer, she is Valerie as an abused child; she is Valerie’s neglectful mother; she is Valerie burdened with the oppression of Warhol, she is Valerie the multi-legged, spidery whore.  In this writer’s view, Aspeli is a masterful storyteller.

Music Intensifies the Experience

Ane Marthe Sorlein Holen’s musical collaboration unites the story and pulls the audience through the scenes.  Her score is a combination of traditional marimba, synthesized music, tender lyrics and narrative.

CHAMBRE NOIR is for mature fans of intense stories who can respond to the dark spell cast by this collaboration.

Credits:

Master Puppeteer/Artistic Director: Yngvild Aspeli
Music: Ane Marthe Sørlien Holen

For more information on upcoming Chicago International Puppet Festival read 2019 Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival PREVIEW

Photos courtesy of Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival 2019

Ann Boland
Portrait by Paul Sierra

Reviewer Ann Boland is committed to Chicago theater. Involved in the audience since the early 80’s, she’s witnessed firsthand the rise of our theater scene, our exceptional local talent, and the vigor of each new generation.  Ann handles public relations for authors and works on programs to help seniors with neurological movement disorders.  Please visit her website for more information.  

 

Click here to read more Picture this Post reviews by Ann Boland.

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